Two weeks ago a black teenager was shot dead by a white officer in Ferguson, MO. We put a call out to Milwaukeeans to take part in a roundtable discussion about race relations and what we could learn in the aftermath of the shooting.
WUWM’s LaToya Dennis moderates the conversation with Kenneth Harris, Claire Van Fossen, Amante Gray, Keith Stanley, Tracy Johnson, and Angela Walker.
These are what the participants would like Milwaukee to learn from Ferguson:
“You can’t have a majority minority city but everyone that works, especially in city government doesn’t look like the people they serve. That makes no sense. It’s not the point about diversity for diversities sake, it’s a point about Captain Ron Johnson and Ferguson. Captain Ron Johnson in Ferguson is a godsend to the town of Ferguson because of one reason--he’s black and he grew up there. And that’s how Milwaukee can become a Ferguson. If we decide that everyone, our police force and everyone...lives outside the city, they don’t look like the people they serve. They come in do their 8-10 hours and they leave out. That is a recipe for disaster."
“If we can just get black, yellow, brown, green people that’s poor together and really do something about the establishment that’s working against us and really see it, that’s kind of almost like keeping us divided…black people are poor and white people are poor but we still have this racial difference so they’re not going to team up and get together and galvanize against the establishment. We got Mexicans over here or Hispanic people over here that don’t necessarily want to come around black people or don’t necessarily want to come around white people so let’s keep them separated, and let’s not get them to the point where they say hmmm, you know one common thing that we share with each other is the fact that we don’t have anything.”
“I believe that policies that are good for black folks are good for all folks as far as everyone needs a healthy environment. Everyone needs functioning public schools that do what they’re needing to do. Everyone needs transit access that is affordable and does what it is supposed to do. Everyone needs living wage work. These are things that unite communities regardless of race.”
“My thing is, if I want a thorough investigation for the man or woman that’s accused of shooting the cop, then I want the same thing for the cop that’s accused of shooting the man because I want the same system to work for them. If it don’t work for them, it’s not going to work for me.”
“If we’re going to get excited about a white police officer shooting a black man, I think we also say how are we going to get excited when a black person shoots another black person? And lets refocus our energy, not saying we need to rally, but let’s focus our energy and let’s rally around that and lets have the same amount of attention paid to that because it’s happening much more often then what we see in Ferguson.”
Claire Van Fossen
“Within the capitalist system, property is often valued over black life. So there was a lot in the media about looting and rioting and white businesses being broken into and it was all detraction from the death of Michael Brown.”